LAS VEGAS — Cross category flavor innovation is coming to convenience stores. Exhibitors highlighted a variety of food-flavored beverages and beverage-flavored foods at the National Association of Convenience Stores’ 2022 NACS Show, held Oct. 2-4 in Las Vegas.
New beverages displayed at NACS draw inspiration from indulgent foods like popsicles and fruity desserts. Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP), Burlington, Mass., is transforming two nostalgic treats into energy drinks with ASHOC Swirl Pop and ASHOC Accelerator Rocket Pop. The beverages deliver a dose of caffeine with flavors that resemble swirl pop candies and Rocket Pop frozen treats.
The company also showcased Dr Pepper Strawberries and Cream. The latest addition to the Dr Pepper lineup combines the soda’s familiar flavor with layers of strawberry and a smooth, creamy finish.
The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, unveiled plans to introduce a new sweetener system across its vitaminwater zero sugar platform at NACS. The sweetener system will roll out in March alongside two new sugar-free products: raspberry dark chocolate and coconut lime.
“Previously, vitaminwater zero sugar was sweetened with stevia, but now we’re going to be using monk fruit and stevia for an improved taste,” said Carlton Austin, director of retail strategy and commercialization at Coca-Cola. “The raspberry dark chocolate has a subtle chocolate taste and is still super refreshing.”
Building on the success of its Girl Scouts collaboration with Dunkin’, Coca-Cola will launch three flavors of ready-to-drink iced coffee next spring. New additions to the company’s Dunkin’ Bakery Series include Brownie Batter Donut, Cake Batter Donut and Coffee Cake Muffin.
The company also is bringing its UK-based Costa Coffee brand into the United States. Two self-serve Costa Coffee machines were on display at NACS alongside a line of ready-to-drink flat white coffees in signature blend, mocha and caramel flavors. The flat white coffees are espresso-based beverages with a thin layer of steamed milk on top.
“This is one of the signature drinks from Costa’s retail coffee shops,” said Joe Gaines, director of US sales at Costa Coffee. “It’s a smooth and foamy drink with a velvety texture. We think it’s really going to stand out in the US, where no one else is doing flat whites yet.”
Fruit-forward lemonade flavors were trending in new beverages, including Sunkist Watermelon Lemonade and Xyience Strawberry Lemonade from KDP. Launching next summer from Coca-Cola is Sprite Lymonade Strawberry. The limited-edition twist on lemon-lime soda is infused with strawberries and a splash of lemonade.
Lemonade flavors also are appearing in new confectionery products. The Hershey Co. is expanding its Jolly Ranchers Gummies lineup with new Lemonade Stand flavors, including sour cherry lemonade, sour strawberry lemonade and sour lime lemonade.
New from Chicago-based Mars Inc. is Wrigley’s Extra Pink Lemonade. The limited-edition sugar-free gum launches in January and will be available through 2025.
Mars also is leaning into beverage trends with M&M’s Caramel Cold Brew, the brand’s first permanent coffee-flavored product.
More coffee drinkers are exploring flavor combinations, with cold brew ranking as one of Gen Z’s most purchased drinks, said Mike Gilroy, vice president of trade development at Mars.
“Everything we do starts with a consumer obsession,” he said. “So, we decided to tap into the booming cold brew coffee scene and pair it with caramel, a confectionery favorite.”